Vitality Culture Manifesto
Our time is running out. If we do not do something and drastically reduce emissions worldwide, our children and grandchildren will not have a future. We want to create a better world for our posterity. If we succeed, there will be a future, a better future, for all humanity.
We have a long way to go to get there. To meet our mission of saving the planet by reducing emissions through data, we need to have a distinctive and unusual culture. Honestly, we have failed at this to date. We have spent too much time trying to be something we simply are not. This document is part handbook, part manifesto about who we are, and part who we aspire to be. Because we recognize we are not perfect and have failed in the past, we know we are still in the aspirational stage, and some of these things are not yet true. If anything in this document is not valid, we want to be held accountable and called out.
We strive to hire the best, we value integrity, excellence, respect, inclusion, and collaboration like all great companies. What we love about Vitality is how much we value:
- The Pioneer Spirit
At our core, we believe that we work to provide for our families, not families to provide for our work. More specifically, we don’t believe in work-life balance. We believe in life. True happiness comes from harmony. If you don’t have harmony in your life, you don’t have balance. To achieve this harmony, we strive to be one team. With this, we are flexible, fun, creative, and collaborative, but most importantly, we are profitable in every step of our journey. If Vitality isn’t profitable, we will be unable to provide the future for ourselves, our families and save the planet.
Our values are what we look for in a team member at Vitality. These are values that show who gets rewarded and who is invited to find employment elsewhere. Below are the specific traits we look for in our team members. We don’t always have these values, but we strive every day to be better and achieve them. The more these values describe who you are or, who you want to be, the more likely you are to succeed at Vitality.
- You are a self-starter that refuses to be micromanaged.
- You aren’t afraid to make decisions.
- You don’t believe in a “9-5” job. You are looking for something with more meaning.
- You don’t wait for things to happen; you make things happen.
- You always look for the best in a person or situation.
- You are not ignorant of the real world but believe in the good in the world.
- You love what you do and believe in a higher purpose and calling.
- You naturally trust people and believe together; we can accomplish great things.
- You know failure is an option but quitting is unacceptable.
- You understand that sometimes life gives you lemons, which only motivates you to make better lemonade.
- You are constantly looking for ways to improve yourself and others around you.
- You are not afraid to speak your mind if it improves the team.
- You are respectful and open to honest communication.
- You focus on listening as much as speaking.
The Pioneer Spirit:
- You are not afraid to start.
- You are strong and motivated to reach your destination.
- You understand that sometimes you won’t have the tools to be successful, which motivates you to create your own.
- You are constantly asking yourself, “there must be an easier way.”
- You are willing to sacrifice yourself and your ego for the greater good.
It’s hard for a company to live up to its values. This is why we like our values. We enjoy doing hard things. We know we aren’t perfect and will not be, but we strive to live these values daily to be better. It takes continuous improvement to change the world.
At Vitality, we are a team. We are not a family as families love unconditionally. You can’t (or shouldn’t) fire family members. In sports, like life, if you are not producing results, you only hurt the team and prevent the team from reaching their goals. If you are not generating the results the team needs, you will be asked to find another team. Our mission is too critical not to have the best performers on our team. If we are going to save the world from emissions, we only need those highly effective collaborators that are crazy enough to think they can change the world.
Building this team is challenging. We have made mistakes in the past by hiring the wrong people. We’ve hired team members who confuse our passion and intensity for anger at them, not the problem we are so focused on solving. Although we feel we have remedied this problem, if mistakes are made in the future, we will be quick to move on with as much mutual respect and dignity as possible.
We don’t do annual reviews, have raise pools, or pay bumps. We believe that our team is full of adults willing to do what it takes to get the job done. Instead, we work with all of our team members to create mutually beneficial monthly Key Result Areas that clearly outline what winning looks like. We don’t believe in trading time for money, so we compensate for reaching our KRA’s. We believe the days of working nine to five are gone. We encourage our team to schedule doctor appointments and other responsibilities during the day. We encourage our team to give back to the community by volunteering where they can. With this freedom comes an understanding that we may have to be available to work nights and weekends. Although we try to avoid this as much as possible, we understand that this is what is necessary to reach our goals.
Every team member is on a competitive base salary with either commission or bonuses tied to their monthly KRAs. On top of this, any team member can choose to differ any portion or amount of their compensation for stock options. We also don’t believe in pay ceilings. If you are performing at your best, there is no limit to the amount of compensation you can achieve.
We understand that this may not sound right for everyone, and that is OK. Many people value job security with high base salaries and would prefer to work where doing the same thing every day would deliver the same results on pay-day. Our model works best for people who highly value consistent results in themselves at their colleagues.
To help us recruit and retain the right team members at the top of their game, we love to create compensation plans as unique as the team member. We don’t like fitting round pegs into square holes. Everyone, needs are different, and so should compensation packages. As a team member at Vitality, you play a significant role in designing and implementing a compensation package that works for you.
Your economic security is based upon your results and reputation. We are not fond of compensation based on seniority or anything that resembles the status quo. At Vitality, we know we are working on complex problems. If what we were trying to do wasn’t hard, we wouldn’t be in the climate emergency that we find ourselves. We try to be conscious of this in all of our efforts. We believe in having fun while saving the planet. At Vitality, we love to invest in our team members to increase their market value. Knowing that other companies are looking at poaching our team members is flattering and comforting for both of us. We openly support interviewing with other companies and encourage candor if you feel you don’t have the best position on the best team possible.
While we know we have a long way to go to reach the company culture we’ve outlined, we also know that today is the perfect day to be better. So we will continue to strive to be a better company and team member today than yesterday.
The Vitality Way
We believe in doing what is right. It doesn’t matter if it is something as big as reducing our carbon footprint or picking up a small piece of trash on the floor. We try to be the type of company that will positively impact the world. We are trying to create a culture where every team member feels a sense of responsibility to do the right thing and to help the company every step along the way. Doing what is right is more than a moral code; it is a way of doing business every day. We try to eliminate as many rules as possible and empower our team to make the best decisions. We want all of our team members to feel a sense of ownership and ethical responsibility, so doing what is right is easy and natural.
Our goal is to let our team members make these decisions themselves. We trust our team members to do what they think is right for their own ethics and Vitality. If we can accomplish this correctly, this gives all of our team members the ability to operate independently with a great sense of freedom, self-discipline, and responsibility that will continue to provide everyone with financial security long into the future.
We’ve tried to be the type of company with long pointless meetings to discuss trivial processes and procedures in the past. We learned the hard way that this doesn’t work for us. We try to minimize meetings whenever possible. We are constantly questioning our current processes to ensure that they are as simple and effective as possible. We want to be the type of organization that values freedom and responsibility, no matter how much we grow. If a system becomes too formal, it squanders individuality, creativity is almost nonexistent, and few people find meaning in their roles. Like Peter Pan, we don’t ever want to grow up.
To avoid the mundane and foster a culture of growth and responsibility while retaining freedom and profitability, we work to have as simple a business as possible while having big audacious growth goals. This is no easy task, and we rely on every team member to ensure that we are constantly improving and fighting for our freedom.
Some examples of how we trust our team with an unusual amount of freedoms are:
- We openly discuss company documents and financials. Any team member can have full, unbridled access to our balance sheet and profit and loss statements at any time. Most of our non-privacy-related documents are accessible to any team member on our shared drive. We trust our team members to do what is right and to keep confidential information confidential.
- There are no rules to spending or per diem. Instead, we empower all of our team members to do what is right and put Vitality’s best interests at the center of their judgment.
- We don’t have a vacation policy, a Work From Home policy, or a sick-time policy. We don’t care where or when you get results, we just care that you get the results needed to push the company forward.
- If you need something to make getting your job done easier. Ask for it. We will get it for you.
- We will never question purchasing books. If there is a book that you want, ask for it, it will show up in your kindle account, on your desk, or at your home in a matter of days.
- Our policy on parental leave, marriage leave, or any other family-related leave is: “Take care of yourself and do what is right.” A life-changing event is different for everyone; we expect team members to work with their leadership to decide when and how they can return to regular work.
- Each team member is involved with creating their compensation package that includes stock options.
This may sound like a recipe for chaos. Maybe it is? But we have found that when we give our team members exceptional freedom, they often make better decisions. We honestly believe that people naturally do the right thing.
On rare occasions, team members don’t do the right thing. We believe these are exceptions and try not to create procedures or processes around exceptions. Just because a few people abuse their freedom does not mean that we need to punish the team as a whole. We take every situation as it is presented and evaluate if a process or policy needs to be created to protect the company. In the end, we will trust our team to do what is right.
Where we do have policies and procedures, it is to help us increase productivity and work better as a team. We enjoy getting shit done and being as effective as possible, and we understand that sometimes a policy helps us communicate better. So whenever a policy or procedure is created, it is published in our company-wide wiki, and reviewed every 90 days for relevance and improvement.
Judgment Calls & Decisions and Leaders
We don’t have a policy or procedure around who or what can make decisions. We believe that everybody is part of the same team. A wide receiver can only make the catch if the quarterback knows what route they are running. If the wide receiver decides to change the route depending on coverage, it is the receiver’s responsibility to communicate with the quarterback. Generally, we follow these guidelines. We give our team members the right to change things on the fly but hold them accountable for communicating the reasoning behind their decisions.
Most of our teams have a team lead that is assigned to help make decisions. This person is responsible for all of their team. They are the quarterback, not the coach. It is their responsibility to make sure the game plan is executed but not expected to develop the game plan. Our team leads are highly effective leaders who look to their team for direction on tough decisions.
Every team member has a leader they report to, but we hate the term “Direct Reports.” Our team leads are responsible for ensuring that the whole team is effective and getting the results needed, but they don’t report to their leader. Our team members are responsible for hitting their KRAs and their leader is there to help them create and hit them. When coaching is needed, we rely on our team leads to reach out to their leaders for guidance and support.
We are all adults, and as such, we are going to disagree with each other. If a team member disagrees with another, it is their responsibility to explain why they disagree; ideally, this would be in person and writing, but we understand that sometimes writing is unnecessary. We also expect team members to be open to others’ views and keep an open mind when discussing the issue. The team leader is the one who will make the final informed decision after welcoming and considering all opinions. Once a decision has been made, we expect everyone on the team to help make it as successful as possible. We also understand that team leads will make the wrong decisions from time to time and may change their minds. In these situations, we expect everyone to revisit the topic and welcome a new perspective on the disagreement. We do not tolerate silent disagreements as they are unproductive and do not foster a team environment.
We have little patience for gossip. This is the one area on which we are very headstrong about having a firm policy. Gossip does not foster teamwork. Gossip ruins productivity and only helps foster one person’s ego. As such, we have a no-tolerance policy for gossip on our team. To us, gossip has the following characteristics:
- Gossip always involves a person who is not present.
- Unwelcome and negative gossip involved criticizing another person
- Gossip often is about conjectures that can injure another person’s credibility, or reputation.
We believe that gossip is a noun, it is something that someone chooses to do. This also means that it is something that someone can opt-out of.
Gossip is defined as:
Speaking or insinuating another team member’s name when that person is not present unless it is to compliment, reference regarding work matters, or speak to their team lead or direct leader.
Any team member that continues to participate in gossiping after being coached by leadership will be asked to leave the company. We are that serious.
We want to change the world. Seriously. We want to provide a life that is fulfilling and meaningful. We know we aren’t perfect. We know that many people may judge us for the sins of our past. We make no excuses for these. To err is human. We hope we are better today than we were when those sins were committed. All we can do is progress.
For these reasons, our values are our guiding light. We press on as we move forward with freedom, optimism, relentlessness, candor, and the pioneer spirit.
The cowards never started, and the weak died along the way.
Co-Founder & CEO